With many of the key contributors from last year’s Section 4 Class AA title team manning this year’s roster, expectations are high for the Union-Endicott baseball team.
So far, those expectations are being met, as the Tigers remained unbeaten Tuesday with a 9-2 victory against Maine-Endwell in a Southern Tier Athletic Conference contest at U-E’s Pete Sylvester Field.
Nick Yesensky tossed six innings of two-run ball and Joey Orlando went 4-for-4 with two RBIs to lead a 13-hit attack for U-E (4-0 STAC, 4-0), which moved a 1½ games up on second-place Vestal (2-1, 3-1) in the STAC Metro Division with the victory.
The Tigers seized control early in this one, putting a four-spot on the board in the first inning against M-E starter Alex Zimmerman.
C.J. Krowiak led off with a double, stole third base and then scored on Orlando’s single to center to put U-E ahead 1-0. Matt Eastman followed with a single to left. One out later, Yesensky belted an RBI double to left to score Orlando, making it 2-0, before John Lavo laced a two-run single to left to put U-E ahead 4-0.
M-E (2-2, 2-3) drew within 4-1 in the fourth on a Zimmerman sacrifice fly, but U-E responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame to take a 6-1 lead.
Anthony Noce doubled with one out, and Krowiak folled with an RBI double to center to plate Noce. Orlando then hit a liner down the left field line that went past a diving left fielder Darnell Woolfolk into the corner for a triple, scoring Krowiak to make it 6-1.
U-E added another run in the fifth inning, then scored two more runs in the sixth inning, the final run coming via an RBI single by Drew Hogan.
“I thought (Tuesday) whenever were were aggressive at the plate, that’s when we did our damage,” U-E coach Tim Harkness said. “Nick didn’t have his best stuff today, but I thought he battled through and trusted his defense.”
In addition to Orlando’s four-hit effort, Krowiak, Hogan and Lavo all had two hits apiece for U-E, which has outscored its opponents 28-6 through four games.
“We’re playing awesome right now,” Orlando said. “Nick pitched a hell of a game, when you let up two runs and your bats are working, you’re going to get the win.”
Yesensky relied on his fastball in the early going, keeping M-E hitless until Woolfolk’s sharp single to right with one out in the fourth. M-E eventually loaded the bases with none out in the inning, but Yesensky escaped the jam with one run scoring when he struck out Drew Gallagher to end the inning.
M-E’s other run came on a Kyle Balmer RBI single in the sixth inning. Yesensky allowed four hits, walking two while striking out three.
“I couldn’t find anything til about the fourth inning, maybe third,” Yesensky said. “When I started hitting my changeup, that really mixed up the hitters. I really wasn’t feeling it until the later innings.”
Zimmerman allowed six runs and 10 hits in four innings for M-E, which lost its third straight game following a 2-0 start.
“I thought Zim settled down in the second and third innings,” M-E coach Gary Crooks said. “It’s 4-0 for a while, but we didn’t hit or really put any pressure on them at 4-0. Then they get a few more runs and we started making some really bad plays.
“We have to be able to compete for seven innings and we didn’t. You can’t do that.”